All roads are leading to a deserted village in Vihiga County as politicians vying for various seats in the August 8 General Election troop to an ancient shrine to seek blessings.
Since the year began, dozens of politicians have paid homage to the legendary Nganyi Lanet shrine at Ebusekwe village near Luanda township, to seek good tidings during elections.
According to the shrine’s caretaker, 74-year-old Joseph Owino, among the visitors have been two prominent politicians seeking to become governors in Western Kenya, two senatorial and scores of parliamentary aspirants.
Mr Owino will not, however, reveal the identities of the politicians and the specific details of their mission.
SENSE OF CERTAINTY
“Everything that takes place here must remain here, I cannot tell you who they were or what transpired during the visits. That is how we work,” he states.
No presidential candidate has so far visited, but one has promised to pass by in the coming days, Mr Owino reveals with a sense of certainty.
“Nobody promises to pass by and break the promise,” he adds.
He said that a good number of politicians had also “booked” to visit the popular shrine once Parliament goes on recess.
Better known for making rain during the dry spell, the elders use the shrine, which they inherited from their forefathers, to pray for politicians seeking good tidings during electioneering periods.
Nganyi Lanet, a legendary Bunyore elder, inherited the shrine from his father, Nammonywa, who had also inherited it from Oluchiri, the grandson of Assubwe son of the clan’s founder Asekwe.
Mr Owino currently runs the shrine.
“Our core mandate is to make rain because this is a blessing to many people. Politicians, however, come to us and we pray for them. This has been happening since time immemorial,” he says.
He goes on: “We receive many politicians from all the political parties. God has given us the power to do many things. We, therefore, do not take political sides using the power bestowed on us.”
The elders at the shrine assess each politician before offering prayers.
Says Mr Owino: “We assess a politician before allowing him or her into the shrine. We also assess his reception on the ground.
If, in our wisdom, we establish that such a politician is largely accepted by voters, we offer him special prayers and he or she wins. All the serious politicians we have prayed for have won during elections.”
During the prayers, politicians make special offering as payment once they step into the shrine. Some rituals, too, are conducted.
So how do the elders who serve in the shrine get the power?
“This is inherited and passed on from one family member to another. One only inherits the power once he attains 65 years because, by then, a person has matured,” explains Mr Owino.
According to Mr Owino, a father picks the son to inherit the powers randomly.
Special sticks are given to the inheriting person as a sign of transfer of power.
The sticks, Mr Owino says while displaying them, are of two different designs. The most powerful has an appearance of the head of a snake and it is passed on to the inheriting person.
“ It is taboo for a woman to inherit this tradition,” he said.